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102 The Fruits of God’s Spirit: Agape Love

The presence of the Holy Spirit will manifest itself in certain ways often called the fruits [or indicators] of the presence of the Holy Spirit, which will develop more and more over time, as we overcome more and more and grow in godliness.  

The scriptures contain a list of the Fruits of God’s Spirit and also a list of the Gifts of God’s Spirit.  Fruits means the evidence of God’s Spirit and nature in a person.  The Gifts of love, wisdom, knowledge and faith  are the same as the fruits, but the gifts of healing, prophecy and tongues are additional special gifts for the edifying of the whole assembly.  This series will present identical Fruits and Gifts together in the same articles, and will place those specific Gifts [healing, tongues and prophecy] not included in the list of Fruits in their own articles. 

We call the end results of anything, its consequences or fruits;  the Holy Spirit in us produces these fruits in us.  

The Holy Spirit is the essence and nature of God, therefore GOD IS:  Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love [agape], joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 523 Meekness, temperance: and we are to grow to become like God.

The fruits of God’s Spirit are the evidences or proofs of God’s Spirit and nature in us.  When we plant a seed that seed will germinate and grow to become a plant.  When God plants his Holy Spirit in us, it will grow [if nurtured by much study,  putting away sin and internalizing godliness, and obedience to every Word of God] and fill us with the nature of God [the nature of God being the nature of God’s Spirit [the fruits of the Spirit].  

The nature of God and of the Spirit of God in us, grows in us through the unresisted presence and growth of God’s Spirit in us.   If we are diligent to learn and to live by every Word of God, to diligently seek all truth – for God is truth, and to reject every false thing, the very nature of God will grow in us, which nature is:  Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

God is Love! 

Agape love  is not a feeling; it is a motivation to act for the good of others,  even at great personal cost.  It is not emotional or selfish, but is an act of wholehearted service, in spite of any cost to ones self.

The whole Word of God was inspired by Jesus Christ who is love!  Therefore the whole Word of God is love in print, love defined!

The entire Word of God is a definition of the very nature of God, which is love.

The commandments, statutes, precepts and judgments, teach us what love is, they teach us how to love as God loves! 

The histories are examples for us, to learn how to behave as God does, which is agape love, and how not to act; revealing the fruits of godly love and ungodly behavior.

Paul writes Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

Godly love is how we live and act; and to love God is to do as He says.

Words of love and emotional feelings, without the actions of loving God by keeping His Word, are false and deceitful and are not godly love at all.  Many have been deceived into proclaiming words of love without the actions of loving God as God commands us to love Him and others. 

John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.  2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

Brethren, there are many false teachers today who try to redefine love in their own evil image; turning the love of God as defined by the Word and commandments of God, into mere empty words without substance, clouds in the desert without water.

From such turn away, and be passionate to love God as God defines love, through the keeping of all the commandments, laws, statutes, precepts and judgments of every Word of God.

 
The Fruit of the Spirit: Agape Love ~ God’s Divine Nature 
The Scriptures tell us that our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have always existed and that they have always been together. They make up the Elohim, which is plural; meaning the Mighty Ones, Divine Beings, (very) Great, Rulers (Strong’s #430).

They have been together from everlasting, and they have no beginning nor will they have an end. They are united in mind and in purpose and are at total peace with each other.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heaven and the earth.

Psalm 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Son is the express image of God the Father. When Philip asked to see the Father, Jesus told him that if he has seen Him (Jesus), he has seen the Father, meaning that they were two distinct entities but were so similar in nature and mind-set, that seeing (or knowing) one was like seeing (or knowing) the other.

John 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?

Hebrews 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high:

God the Father and the Word, who would later become Jesus Christ, have always loved each other throughout all eternity, for by their very definition they are “LOVE.” We have a very clear statement about how they are this kind of divine love in 1 John 4:7-12, where it says that “God is [agape] Love”! This is a description of their divine nature. Both God the Father and Son are all about love.

Love is the keeping of all of the commandments of God (1 John 5:3), and all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psalm 119:172); then both the Father and the Son love with this kind of definition of what the love of God is.

John 4:8 He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.

In this week’s study, we begin by looking at the very first part of the “nine qualities” of the Fruit of the Spirit and show from Scriptures, what is the Biblical definition of the love that is imparted to His children through the power of His Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

If we have been called and have responded by sincerely repenting, becoming baptized, have received the Holy Spirit, and are in the process of becoming like Elohim [as they are God], and we are being made into their very spiritual image; then we too must have this kind of agape love.

These scriptures and others throughout the Bible are very important to us; for they tell us what godly love is and about what our responsibilities should be in having this kind of love within ourselves.

God is the SOURCE of the kind of love that John talks about. It comes from God and is not naturally a part of man’s human nature. It is the kind of love that is called agape love.

The definition of agape, as listed in Strong’s #25, 

 We can learn the meaning God intends from this word “agape” by looking at many of the Scriptures that describe agape and by how it is used in the context when God talks of this type of divine love. (Isaiah 28:10)

Those of us who have been in the faith for any length of time, have heard of the three basic types of love; agape, philia and eros. But the Greek word for love that is used in Galatians 5:22; where love (agape) is the first of the nine parts of the Fruit of the Spirit.

Definition of Agape Love:

This is a special term which represents the divine-love of the Lord towards his Son Jesus Christ, human beings and all believers. This is the best of the three types of love in the Bible, in fact Jesus himself showed this type of divine love to his Father in heaven and humanity.

Agape love is the love that God commanded all believers to have for everyone whether he/she is a believer or not.

Agape love has nothing to do with our feelings; it is more of a set of behaviors or actions. With agape, you do not have to actually have an emotional feeling for you to be filled with agape love, which means that you can be able to show love without feeling anything at all.

While at times, feelings can follow after showing this kind of love. This is an unconditional love that sees beyond the outer surface and seeks the good of the recipient regardless of their flaws, shortcomings or faults.

Agape is the type of love that everyone should strive to have for others.  This kind of love is all about sacrifice as well as giving and expecting nothing in return. The translation of the word agape is love in the verb – form: it is the love demonstrated by our behavior towards another person. It is a committed and chosen love.” 

A well known chapter in the Bible that teaches on the subject of agape love and what kind of behavior it should reflect, in contrast to what kind of behavior it should not reflect; is the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13

Agape love is godly righteousness, and 1 Corinthians 13 teaches us how true Christians must exemplify God’s righteousness to the very core of their beings; this kind of love must reflects what comes from the heart and out of the mouth. Paul illustrates in clear terms how this kind of love is of supreme importance in our Christian walk.

Paul compares agape love and its value with other gifts such as faith, hope, prophecy, sacrifice, knowledge and the gift of tongues. He is not minimizing these other qualities’ usefulness in our lives; these other things are very much needed in living out our faith as well, and they are very important. But none can compare in importance to agape love [God’s love]. 

The fruits of the Spirit collectively add up to the very nature of God, and the first fruit of the Spirit which should fill our beings is a deep outgoing concern for others. 

 

Everything About God is Divine Love, For That is God’s Nature

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 4:8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 

John is writing about how we must love each other; for love itself springs forth and comes from God, and those who love their fellowman or the brethren are of God. They are progressively coming to know and understand God by receiving revelation and perception of who He is and what He is about.

As we live and walk with God, drawing closer to Him with prayer, meditation and obedience; we are coming to get a better and clearer knowledge of Him. Those who do not have godly love and do not love others are not really acquainted with God, showing that they do not and never did know Him. God is all about love, for that is His nature.

When John tells us that God is love, he is not saying that loving is just one of His activities, but that every activity and everything about God is loving.

Both God the Father and Jesus Christ are living, dynamic, powerful,  caring God Beings. Love describes their divine nature. God the Father, and His Son who is the expressed image of His Father’s likeness, are a loving Family and everything that they do is loving.

EVERYTHING they do, and EVERYTHING about them is done in love. When they rule, it is with love; if they judge, it is with love; if they create, it is in love.

The giving of all their commandments, ordinances, statutes, precepts and judgments was done in love for our good. If they discipline us, it is with love for our good. Even when Jesus comes to judge the earth and wields His wrath upon a sin-filled world, it will be done in love. Everything they think, say, and do is an expression of their love.

As true Christians, we are to live our lives with love for God our Father and His Son, and also to love all humanity.

Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, that Spirit will empower us to live in love as God does.  And as we seek to obey God in everything we do, we will be given even more of His Holy Spirit, with includes the gift of agape love; for it say in Acts 5:32 that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey Him. God’s love which is the first of the Fruits of His Spirit, will be given only to those who obey Him and keep His commandments.

John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 4:10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected [completed] in us. 

We have just completed Passover and the week of Days of Unleavened Bread which teaches us and shows us through analogies, of this great and wonderful plan of salvation. It is through their love for us, mere human beings in the form of clay for now, that they decided to send Jesus Christ to live in the flesh, to suffer from persecution and the effects of living in this present evil world, then to die a horrible death.

Jesus sacrificial death, the atonement for our sins, and then His resurrection and ascension back to the Father, has made it possible for us, those the Father calls, to receive the possibility of repenting, being baptized and given the Holy Spirit with the hope of eternal life with them; made in their very spiritual image.

What an awesome realization this is! How grateful we can be, and this understanding is such a motivator for us to then strive with all our being to live up to what they require in us, and to be faithful until the end of our lives, or until Christ returns. There is nothing more exciting, marvelous, or wondrous in the world than the LOVE of God that they shower upon us; and that they want us, desire us, to be one with them, and to have their kind of mind and heart; and the kind of divine agape love that they have!

Our heavenly Father and His Son loved us first and then the Father sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins; and if they so loved us, then we ought to love them in return and also to love one another. If we have this kind of love in us, it is proof that God dwells in us; and that He is going to perfect that love even as it is perfect in them. That is, if we remain faithful to do all we can, doing our part in doing what is required for preparing ourselves for this awesome privilege of working with, and assisting them in the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 5:48  Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Our goal is to be perfect in God’s love, even as our Father is perfect in His love toward His Son and toward His faithful begotten children.

How Can We Have This Godly Agape Love?

All we have to do is look around us, and look at this world and see the fruits of it; that mankind does not have God’s love by nature, and that men and women do not have it innately within themselves.

Only by being called by God  the Father, drawn to Him and given the opportunity to know Him; and if we respond positively, can we have this kind of love. We receive this love as a gift from God who is the source of this love by means of the Holy Spirit. He tells us through Paul, that it is only because God has poured it into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that we can have this love. There is no other way for us to get it, than to have it given to us as a gift. But there are qualifiers for receiving it; we must work to maintain it, and we must work to grow in it. God will do His part and we need to do our part.

Romans 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 

We can only receive it from the SOURCE of true godly love and that is from God. Only in the process of knowing God, seeking Him with all our hearts with prayer, staying in communication with Him, meditating on His precepts and commandments and on who He is, and then by implementing all His ways and laws into our lives, can we really get to know Him.

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

If we see that we are not walking according to every Word of God, we must repent quickly, then ask for forgiveness and for help to not break them anymore. If we detect any kind of hatred or bitterness toward anyone, whether it be a fellow member of the Ekklesia or a nonbeliever, we must ask God to forgive us and ask Him to give us of His divine love; to love properly as He would have us to love that one.

We read in Galatians 5:22 about the fruit of the Spirit, and in verse 24 it says that we must crucify the flesh with all the affections (for sin) and lusts and then live and walk in the Spirit (verse 25). How do we do that? By diligently removing all the things that offend and cause us to stumble out of our lives and seek God and His righteousness in everything and as we learn to walk and live by faith.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 5:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 5:26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.  

When we need more of the Holy Spirit, which includes His godly love, we can always ask for more of it, which we should be doing every day. For we need to constantly be refreshed with a steady stream of God’s Spirit daily; for it is like oil in a lamp. When the lamp is burning and throwing out light, it needs to have oil to sustain the brightness of its light and to be supplied with oil on a continuous basis.

Luke 11:8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth. 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? 11:12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Another way we can attain more of God’s love is to study and learn all we can about it and then practice it in our homes, in our families, at our jobs, and in our assemblies. Keeping all of God’s commandments, means that we are to love God above all and to do no harm to our neighbor. But not only do we not do harm, we are to do good to them, not just in the letter of the law, but by the very deepest spiritual intent of God’s laws.

Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Philippians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 2:3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

If We Love God We Will Keep His Commandments

John 5:1 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [not a burden].

If we believe that Jesus is the Christ and if we truly love Him, we are begotten of God. This is evidence that we know Him, if we love His children. Verse 3 plainly states without any room for misunderstanding (yet much of the world does not understand this) that this is love, that we keep His commandments. Anyone who says that they love God but do not keep or believe in keeping His commandments is a liar. (1st John 4:20).

Then John goes on to say that the keeping of God’s commandments are not grievous, are not a burden, so therefore they should be the delights of our heart! It is the only way to live, and by so doing, brings lasting blessings, rewards, eternal life and will produce truly right and good results! Also, living according to the way He lives and by living in obedience to Him, will bring to us the agape love that we all so desperately long for from the very depths of our beings.

The Love of God is Compassionate and Full of Zeal

God made us to crave and to absolutely require HIS agape love in our lives. When we are devoid of it (which most of the world is at this point), we suffer in so many ways; physically, mentally, psychologically and spiritually.

We are to keep all of God’s commandments, judgments, statutes, ordinances and precepts; which are love, but there is another aspect.

We can keep all His commandments in a cold, mechanical, dutiful kind of way, and we may feel that we have done our duty. OR we can keep all of them with enthusiasm, gratefulness, warm heartedness and with great zeal and passion. What kind of love do you think God wants us to have toward Him and toward each other?

God’s love is revealed to us by His providence and loving care of His creation. And because He wants us to learn how to be like Him in this regard, He has placed us into families and into the Ekklesia. It is in our marriages, our families, and in our extended spiritual families, where we mostly learn the sacrificial kind of love that He has for us.

It is in our relationships with others, that we too, learn to show affection, sympathy, empathy for others, and concern and provision for their needs. God is a passionate lover of His people and He wants the same kind of passion to be cultivated in those that He is perfecting for the purpose of being with Him in His Kingdom. A family of warm, wholehearted, affectionate people who exemplify the same kind of divine nature that He has, is what He desires.

Because Iniquity Abounds, the Love of Many will Wax Cold

I remember hearing some time ago, that if babies in orphanages are given everything that they need to survive, but are not given the affection of touch and holding, that most will die; and the rest will not grow properly, and many who do survive will grow up to have severe mental problems. But how could simply being in an orphanage kill a baby? They die from lack of love. When an infant falls below the threshold of physical affection needed to stimulate the production of growth hormone and the immune system, his body starts shutting down. God has placed the need for love within us from the very beginning of our existence.

That is what can happen to us spiritually in the Body of Christ if we do not have Godly agape love one toward another. That is why we are commanded to assemble and to have fellowship one with another, to comfort and to exhort each other to stay faithful in the keeping of the whole Word of God, and to be kindly affectionate toward one another.

The lack of real zeal and passion for God and all His righteousness in the COG groups of our time, and in neglecting to follow God wholeheartedly; is iniquity. And the lukewarmness in obeying and adhering steadfastly to the things of God, will cause the love (agape) in the Ekklesia to wax cold.

No matter what others are doing or neglecting to do, or if leaders are being poor examples to the flock; we must not let our love grow cold. But we must endure to the very end, keeping the fire for God and all His ways burning; which includes having His agape love abounding in us for Him, for His Word, and for His people.

Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 

Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 12:10 Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;

When She Strays God Warns His Ekklesia Out of His Love for Her

Another example of God’s expressing His agape love, is by sending those He has appointed to warn His Ekklesia, and also to the rest of the world; those He is going to call at a later time. He does this by sending His called-out ones to “cry aloud and lift up their voices like a trumpet and show the people their transgression.”

The men and women who will take a stand for truth; warning their brothers and sisters to repent of their sins and of their idolatry; are showing true agape love and the mercy of God to them, by giving them a chance to repent and return to Him and to all His commandments.

Isaiah 58:8 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 

James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

Ezekiel 33:7 So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. 33:8 When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 33:9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. 33:10 Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

And of course, the preaching and teaching of the Gospel to all the world is out of God’s great love. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The True Meaning and the Practice of God’s Love Needs to be Restored

Brethren, the whole concept of what the meaning of LOVE is; in this present evil world, is a fake misrepresentation; to the point that it now means the most abominable practices and partnerships. And the concept of what godly love means is a mistaken idea in some of the Ekklesia as well.

True godly love is not treating the symptoms of the disease, trying to make problems just go away, without addressing the source of what is causing the problems. The cause of our troubles is living contrary to God’s laws and His Word. It will not be committees of do-gooders with their strategic programs to fix the problems of the world, apart from God, that will alleviate or prevent those problems. These people falsely believe that they can do much good, even save the world; while completely ignoring what God tells mankind as to how they should be living.

This is an area that we, as God’s people, need to shine for all the world to see; by the way that we demonstrate this quality of the Fruit of the Spirit (agape love), and in how we are committed to obeying our Creator, no matter what. We teach the world and each other how to truly have agape love, God’s divine nature, by keeping all of His commandments, and in how we treat one another.  

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. 
1 Corinthians 13 Commentary

A More Excellent Way

 Paul tells them that the most important or virtue from God is true godly agape love because it is the foundation of all else. And he goes on to write a beautiful “ode to Agape Love” This chapter depicts the attributes of what agape love means and how it behaves.

Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

In the first three verses of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives graphic illustrations about gifts that the Corinthians would normally think of as being visible evidence of true spirituality. He then corrects them by pointing out that without love as the motivating factor, these other gifts count for nothing. He lists six gifts in these first three verses, including tongues [languages], then the gift of prophecy, understanding [deep spiritual insights], the word of knowledge, extraordinary faith, and the gift of giving with liberality (Romans 12:8). As wonderful and marvelous as all these spiritual gifts are, Paul says they are nothing without charity.  The word for charity in these verses is the Greek word agapao or agape [selfless love].

Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

The supernatural phenomenon which took place at the first Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, was the display of a gift whereby many people from many countries gathered at Jerusalem, heard God’s message given through the apostles, in their own language. This was clearly a miracle of God. Paul uses this extraordinary example of God’s power to explain that if the people could use this gift to allow others to understand foreign languages, but did not use it with love as the motivation, what good is it?

He goes on to compare the sounds coming out of the speakers’ mouths to the clamorous sounds of a loud noisy gong. When he says “of angels”, he is probably repeating back to the Corinthians their high estimation of this gift, as it very much demonstrates a visible (or I should say audible) miracle from God. Yet if not done with love, the gift is no better than hearing a laud bell ringing close to our ears, a loud irritating noise that has no redeeming merits. In Paul’s time “A resounding gong” could be referring to a large “acoustic vase” used for amplification in the Greek theaters. Combined with a “tinkling [clanging] cymbal,” Paul graphically highlights that tongues without love leave only a hollow reverberation, or residual ringing in the ears.

Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

Paul gives several more examples of spiritual gifts that if used without being accompanied by godly love, are of no use either to the person exhibiting them or to others. Even if a person has the gift of prophecy, has spiritual insight and knowledge and has enough faith to move mountains; if any of these things are not exercised in godly love they are of no value.

Corinthians 13:3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

What is the motive when people give to those in need? If it is not done with agape love as the motivation, then it too, is of no spiritual value.  Paul is asking if the gift is truly agape love toward those we want to help or feed? or is it to “sound a trumpet,” to make the public aware [to be seen of men] so as to receive accolades from them? In Matthew 6:1-4 Jesus tells His disciples to not let the left hand know what the right hand is doing, that the charitable deed may be seen in secret; and then the Father who sees in secret will Himself reward those giving, openly.

In Jesus day, some Pharisees would sound a trumpet whenever they were about to give an offering to get the people’s attention and to be seen by others. They wanted the more common people to think of them as righteous and benevolent in their eyes because of their “generosity.” Paul probably witnessed this kind of giving when, he, himself was a Pharisee, and may have been thinking of this when he wrote this.

This kind of giving and generosity to be seen of men is somewhat similar in the worldly churches of today. The church that I attended as a youth acknowledged their patrons when they gave a certain  high amount of money, with a brick with their name on it. The bricks were used to pave the walk ways that lead through the gardens of the church. For those who gave even larger amounts, they were given even more prominence by having a big plaque made up with the person’s name on it. The beautiful plaques were showcased on the walls of the building for all the parishioners to see as they walked along the hallways.

Paul is talking more, though, about our attitude or the inner motive behind the giving, for many times the giving does need to be seen in order for others to be helped and is part of letting our light shine.

We think of the early Ekklesia who worked as teams to take care of and to distribute daily food to the widows and orphans in Acts 6. The Bible tells of the time Paul and his congregations got involved and gathered collections for the poor saints in Jerusalem. The brethren gave of themselves to others out of concern for their brethren, and not to show off. Godly love is the the motive to the giving in these cases. But in this verse in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is illustrating that if giving, even to the point of giving up our body in martyrdom; if it is done without godly love, it counts for nothing in God’s sight.

Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 16:3  And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

When giving to help others, we must be motivated with the kind of love that is selfless, expecting nothing in return, genuinely wanting to benefit or to relieve the suffering of others. If one has the love of God, he will give from godly motives; not giving to receive applause and accolades or favors in return.

After Paul showed the importance of love as compared to other gifts and attributes in these verses, he goes on to describe in verses 13:4-7 what godly love looks like: and also what it does not look like. These kinds of behavior, either positive or negative, are how we can know people by their fruits. The bearing of true godly love is the very first component of the Fruit of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:22.

Godly love is foundational to the rest of the elements of  the Spirit and is the foundation behind the others, such as joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, etc. as well as being the driving force in exercising the gifts of the Spirit.

In Matthew 7:15 Jesus shows us how to identify false teachers and prophets. He said we would know them by their fruits. If a spiritual leader, minister or brother is not displaying this very important attribute [agape love] of the Holy Spirit, then he most likely is very spiritually immature, or does not have God’s Spirit; as agape love can only come by the Holy Spirit. Only those who have God’s Spirit are capable of having this type of godly love. We must all examine ourselves in this regard as well, and seek to grow in having these godly behaviors that Paul defines as showing true godly love.

Corinthians 13:4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

Love is patient toward all people and shows patience and kindness even when it may be difficult to do so. There are times when others try our patience by taking up of our time with their slowness; like children, the elderly, or some one who has disabilities; or even those who are discourteous to us.

Godly love does not envy: [Godly love does not boil over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily – Amplified Version]. Agape love does not envy or act competitive toward others, or want what they have. When some one is honored, a loving person rejoices for that person and is not envious of them. Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice…..

Love does not parade itself or show off trying to impress others with who they are or what they have. “Not puffed up” means not full of pride and arrogance, thinking of themselves as better or higher than others, looking down on those they think of as beneath them.

Romans 12:16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

Corinthians 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Persons with the love of God, do not act unseemly (are not rude). The Greek word for unseemly in this verse is: aschémoneó (Strong’s #807 ) and means: (i.e. act) unbecoming; behave uncomely (unseemly), inelegant.

The English definition is :1. Not in accord with accepted standards of good taste; grossly improper. 2. Not suited to the circumstances; inappropriate or improper manner. not in good style or taste; unbecoming.

These are the kind of attitudes and behaviors that are everywhere in our society and permeate the airwaves of television, movies, video games, news programs, etc. In fact in our society it is considered “cool” or “manly” or even “womanly” to behave in this type of anti-love (therefore anti-God) way and seems to be getting worse as time goes on.

Here is a list of many of the synonyms to understand more about what it means to be unseemly; these things are the antithesis of agape love.

Unseemly: improper, inappropriate, unsuitable, out of place, undignified, disreputable,  unbecoming,  unrefined, out of keeping, discreditable, indelicate, in poor taste, indecorous.

Unseemly can also be translated as being rude, which is similar in meaning and shows a lack of godly love and godly behavior which must not be a part of a Christian’s life:

1. discourteous or impolite, esp. deliberately so:  insulting or uncivil; discourteous; impolite:a rude reply.

2. without culture, learning, lacking refinement, course or uncouth.

3. rough in manners or behavior; uncouth, vulgar or obscene.

4. rough, harsh, or ungentle: a rude shock, unexpected and unpleasant.

5. roughly built or made; crude: a rude cottage.

6. harsh to the ear: rude sounds.

7. lacking elegance; of a primitive simplicity: a rude design.

8. rough or harsh in sound, appearance, or behavior, robust, sturdy, or vigorous.

Persons who have God’s love do not seek their own. Love does not insist on its own rights or its own way. If we truly love others, we will set aside our own plans, agendas, and claims for the good of others. We will try to please the other person as long as their preferences or needs do not conflict with God’s laws.

If we feel we have been wronged by another brother, we would not sue that person taking him to the court system before the unrighteous. But we would try to work it out within the confines of the Ekklesia, and if it cannot be worked out, would absorb the loss. (1 Corinthians 6:1-8)

“Not easily provoked”; a godly loving person does not get upset easily, is not offended when things don’t go their way, is not overly sensitive to others’ comments or actions toward them.

They don’t get easily angry over inconveniences or things that seem to be going wrong; nor from actions and mistakes of others. They are not touchy or fretful or resentful; and pay no attention to rude behavior of others toward them. They do not try to strike back at others or show a revengeful spirit.

Yes, we can be giving to others and doing all kinds of charible deeds, but if we cannot control our tempers or our speech, those things wil negate all our good deeds.

Loving persons with God’s love do not think evil of others; they do not get involved in gossiping about them, or judging unfairly based on appearances or speculations. They do not have evil surmising’s or unwarranted suspicions of a brother or sister without real proof.

1 Corinthians 13:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Godly love does not rejoice in iniquity, takes no pleasure in anything that is contrary to godly living or opposes the truth. It is repelled by evil and lawlessness. [Does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail – Amplified Version]

Godly love does not rejoice when bad things happen to those who oppose us or persecute us. A person with godly love does rejoice in all of God’s truth and seeks to learn and understand so that love can abound even more in their lives. He takes pleasure when others find the truth and he wants to help them to understand and receive the gift that he has been given, as far as understanding God’s Word and His precepts. True godly love wants to share that knowledge with others and rejoices immensely when others are willing to receive it.

1 Corinthians 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Godly love bears patiently all things that may come its way and for as long as it may take. Godly love helps us to endure all things and to the end.It wants to believe the best about others; but it is not blind and naive when it sees their weaknesses and problems. When we love, we will recognize problems and failures in people, but we do not lose faith in the possibilities of what those people may become when God starts working in their lives. We are all “kids under construction” and need to give each other some slack, especially when we see that we, too, have problems and failures.

This is not to say we tolerate evil and willful sinning on their part and welcome just everyone into our assemblies. (See 1 Corinthians 5) We may need to remove ourselves from the company of some and detach ourselves from their fellowship for a season, if they refuse to repent of open sinning and are a bad influence. But we still hope and pray for their repentance and coming to the knowledge of God’s righteousness.

We see all people as potential children of God, knowing that God will call them at a certain point, and then they will have their eyes opened to see what we see, we will rejoice!  We desperately want this for our loved ones who are not being called at this present time.  But our love and hope must include all people of the world, “as God is not willing that any should perish”; we too must have the same attitude and love toward them as God does. Love never gives up, knowing God can and will change the hearts and lives of all those who respond to a future calling; and if they repent when given a chance to sincerely repent.

1 Corinthians 13:8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Godly love will never cease or never fade away or become obsolete.  Prophecy will someday all be fulfilled and there will no longer be a need to prophesy. There will be no more need for tongues as we will all speak the same pure language (Zephaniah 3:9), and all knowledge will become known; but godly love will endure forever and ever. God promises in many places in His Word, that iHis love will never cease! Malachi 3:6 For I am the Lord, I change not;

Corinthians 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 13:10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

We do not know all things yet; the Body of Christ is still immature compared to what we will be when we are finally completed and perfected. At the beginning of our calling, God calls us spiritual babes, but just as physical little babies; we are not to stay spiritual babes but grow to become spiritually mature.

We are told in many passages that we are to seek wisdom and truth, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18), and to desire the pure milk of the Word that we may grow thereby. (1 Peter 2:2-3)

We must live in this world, but at the same time be diligently searching for God’s truth and proving all things, always being willing to learn and come to a deeper understanding when God reveals things to us.

Acts 20:32  And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

The “Word of His grace” in this verse is referring to the whole gospel and the whole Word of God; which is able to build us up, to edify us. We could think of it edifying us in terms of building a house or building up a muscular body. In other words, the word of grace matures us. As we grow from being a child and all its childish ways and immaturity, to a fully grown mature and stable adult, in the same way spiritually, the word of grace enables us to grow up to perfection.

Seeking to UNDERSTAND God’s LOVE for us and then applying it to how we love others is paramount to our walk as Christians in this life. And if we do not learn and understand how God loves us, how will we know how to apply His love toward all His children when we are assisting Him, teaching and ruling in the Millennial Kingdom? While we still have time, lets pursue God’s love with all our hearts. And God says that if we seek Him, we will find Him. This is a promise.

Proverbs 8:17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

We must exercise faith for what we have been taught by God in His Word and believe in His promises and act upon them. We have only experienced this present evil world and what it is like to be mortal human beings. We do not really know what it will be like to be living as spirit beings in the spiritual realm. Jesus is the only one who has died, has been resurrected and has become a fully spiritual God Being. He tells us in His word about such things, but none of us have experienced this fulfillment for ourselves yet.

But soon, we will actually see Jesus as He is, and we will be like Him, when He is revealed to us at the resurrection. We will see Him face to face! He is leading us into all truth but we are not there yet. We realize that we are so very blessed to have been given so much understanding, but we also realize that we must keep seeking and learning until Christ returns or until our lives end.

Then we will be able to put away all the childish things, (immature and incorrect thinking). We will know in full and not partially anymore. Even our godly love is partial in this life. We must continually be seeking more and asking for more of it, but our understanding will not be complete until God completes and perfects us spiritually. When we are resurrected and have complete and perfect minds like God, we will then fully know His love, even as God has shown us love while we were immature but were still growing in it. If “God is Love” then the more we imbibe of Him and His Word, the more we will absorb of His attributes, and His agape love will flow naturally into us and will grow even more and more.

John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 3:2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

We need faith, and we need hope very much, but Paul says that love is the greatest of the three; for it is pivotal to the others. God’s love is foundational and essential in applying these other things in our lives.

Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 1:3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Galatians 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Corinthians 13 is called the Love Chapter and it is a cause for celebration and rejoicing, for even if we do see in a glass darkly, we who have been called and have been given the Holy spirit, have experienced the Father’s abundant love for us even as we are at this time just clay. And yet one day we will see Him in all His glory and magnificence. Through our love for Him, we have hope knowing that day is coming and we will experience and see His love in its fullest. We will no longer be looking through a dark glass any more!

Faith, Hope and Love will Endure Forever

Godly love [the kind that can only come from God by the power of His Holy Spirit] is the key that unlocks and opens up all the other gifts and the other eight parts of the fruit of the Spirit.

As Paul wrote so eloquently, exhorting all true Christians to earnestly, sincerely, diligently, constantly with all our hearts; seek this kind of agape love [this virtue] above all types of love and over all else. Having godly love as part of our character is a more excellent way and is the best way of all.

Constance Belanger and James Malm 

  

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